Kent, Julia / Character
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Opportunities for introspection have come few and far between for Canadian-born, New York City-based cellist Julia Kent. After coming to prominence as a member of the cello-driven group Rasputina in the ’90s, she went on to arrange and play on numerous recordings and tour extensively as a member of Antony and the Johnsons, among other projects. The chance to explore her own emotional and creative world came with her solo LPs, Delay (2007) and Green and Grey (2011), and it is something she appropriates fully on her captivating debut for The Leaf Label, Character. Recorded alone in her home studio, Character develops the layering techniques Kent brought to the fore on her previous solo material, the flow of intertwining cello motifs working as an external representation of competing internal meditations. In the past, the cellist adopted field recordings to accompany her playing; Delay saw recordings taken from various airports as Kent became fascinated by their ambience, while samples were taken from nature as she explored boundaries between electronic and organic sounds on Green and Grey. In Character, their somewhat hidden nature is just as important, reflecting the need for introspection that drives the album. If her first two albums saw Kent developing her individuality, Character is perhaps the first time she’s had the courage to take what she’s learned and deliver an album of such depth and contemplative beauty. “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to enter other people’s musical worlds and discover how they communicate their ideas,” she insists, “But I love the autonomy of creating and performing entirely alone.” It’s all too easy to forget that, in a world of unprecedented access to information, advice, opinion and influence, the most important voice is one’s own. It’s something Kent knows well, though, and has sought to hear over the din of her surroundings, in doing so producing her most confident solo statement yet.